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dajonga

Crown Vic Police cars... opinions

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My son is going to be driving in a few months. He is enrolled in the Ocean County Vo-Tech Academy of Law and Public Safety, which is a career track high school for kids wanting to enter into law enforcement. He is thinking NJSP or Homeland.

I am looking for a first car for him, and saw some low mileage surplus Crown Vics on CL. He would get a kick out of rolling around in that.

Any opinions, especially from those who may have used one of these on the job? Are they reliable/safe enough for a first car? 

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I would avoid.

Cop cars are beat to hell. Even low mileage cars. They are ridden hard, often 24 hours a day, bu guys that don't own them.

Think about how most communal property is treated. A few guys really take care of their cars, but most guys beat on them.

Have your mechanic give it a thorough thrice-over if you are seriously contemplating one.

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13 minutes ago, High Exposure said:

I would avoid.

Cop cars are beat to hell. Even low mileage cars. They are ridden hard, often 24 hours a day, bu guys that don't own them.

Think about how most communal property is treated. A few guys really take care of their cars, but most guys beat on them.

Have your mechanic give it a thorough thrice-over if you are seriously contemplating one.

Sounds like the same reason I'd never buy a former rental car. People abuse what they don't own themselves.

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actually, the crown vics seem ultra-reliable. have they been beat? sure they have. but unlike the chargers, they can take it. try to find one that you can confirm was a state highway patrol car. if it's from a local pd, try to confirm it was a detectives or the cheif's car.

 avg miles i see on them around here seems to be about 100k to 150k. try for later, like 04 or newer. less likely to burn oil. the earlier 4.6 liters tended to burn oil. once ford fixed that problem, those were some fantastic engines. 

 there's also plenty of AWD police taurus's out there now, as well as explorers and expeditions. i don't know enough to be well informed on the explorers and taurus's though. i do know that ford's rating those taurus's at 300hp. :D expedition is one of the better suv's.

10 minutes ago, Mrs. Peel said:

Sounds like the same reason I'd never buy a former rental car. People abuse what they don't own themselves.

rental cars make some of the best purchases nowadays. go try to rent one. they're anal. they go over it with a fine tooth come when you sign it out, and when you sign it back in. they flip them over more quickly now than they used to. if you bring it back to them, and there's any unusual wear/tear, they charge you to get it taken care of. and they do get it taken care of.

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I'd stay away from retired police cars for the reasons HE gave.

If you want to get him a Crown Victoria look for a low mileage privately owned one on Craig's List or something like that. There are plenty out there in our area with the retirement communities in the area.  These are cars that grandpa bought for a retirement car 15-20 years ago because he wanted a full size car.  He also wanted reliability so he took care of it. Always driven gently. Now he's in his 80s and can't drive.

A friend bought one of these with just over 100k on it a few years ago.  He takes very good care of his cars.  Outside of normal wear and tear on components he had no problems until the transmission went at about 275k.  He rebuilt the trans (because he knew how to do that) and drove the car to 350k when the engine gave up.

There is a reason Crown Victorias were a favorite of not only police but of taxi and livery car fleets as well.

Grandpa's car may never have chased  bad guys but all the kids will refer to your son's car as the "police car".

If you find a smoking deal on a police car look for one that was detective or chief's car as 1LtCAP suggested.  You can tell these by lack of holes for roof lights, solid colors,  and no residue/paint discrepancies from the decals.

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13 minutes ago, glockncolts said:

Even if it has low mileage you don't really know how many endless hrs it was just left idling with air on at the side of the road....

THIS is why i suggested state highway patrol, detective, or cheif's car. those don't get much idle time.

 

now that you mention it though, i gotta do some research. wonder if ford's got a hobbs built into the computer software. the chargers and tahoes i work on for a local pd both have that ability. dodge tried to screw them outta warranty work over oil changes. they do them every 3k or 3 months. service writer tried the "oil change schedule wasn't followed due to idle hours" crap. it didn't fly. and they did the warranty work. now when i write their invoices, i include miles and idle hours.....

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24 minutes ago, glockncolts said:

Even if it has low mileage you don't really know how many endless hrs it was just left idling with air on at the side of the road....

I don't know if that idling time affects engine life that much.  Not much stress on the driveline when the engine is just idling.

Some time ago I read something in what I considered a reliable source.  If you start up a cold engine and drive off immediately on a 500 mile trip, 99% of the engine wear occurs in the first five miles before the engine warms up. If this is true the engine in a taxi or police car that stays warm will last longer.

Don't know if that still holds true with tighter tolerances in engines today.  Engine "break-ins" used to be 1000 miles or so.  I haven't seen a break-in period suggested for some time.  I can't think of any car made where the block isn't going to last 200k or more with reasonable maintenance.

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A bit off topic but NJSP requires a bachelors degree from an accredited college or univeristy as of this past June.  If that is on his radar he may want to consider more education after Vo Tech.

 

http://www.njsp.org/recruiting/minimum-qualifications.shtml

 

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2 hours ago, GRIZ said:

I don't know if that idling time affects engine life that much.  Not much stress on the driveline when the engine is just idling.

Some time ago I read something in what I considered a reliable source.  If you start up a cold engine and drive off immediately on a 500 mile trip, 99% of the engine wear occurs in the first five miles before the engine warms up. If this is true the engine in a taxi or police car that stays warm will last longer.

Don't know if that still holds true with tighter tolerances in engines today.  Engine "break-ins" used to be 1000 miles or so.  I haven't seen a break-in period suggested for some time.  I can't think of any car made where the block isn't going to last 200k or more with reasonable maintenance.

an hour of idling equals 4 hours of driving according to some of the dealers

 

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I've worked for 2 different municipalities for over 30 years, and because I was in fire prevention, we always got police hand me downs. That being said, specifically talking about Crown Vics, as mentioned above, if you get a detective's car or an officer's old car,   they won't be too bad.The pluses are they are roomy, full sized with lots of steel around you child. If God forbid, he or she gets in an accident that's what you'd like to see. Obviously, getting one that didn't have a spot light, or a hole in the roof where the roof light cable ran is a bonus. The V-8 engine holds up very well, is powerful and are regularly maintained by the town as the cars need to be in service as much as possible. Try and get one that never had a cage installed and don't expect the dash to not have holes in it. Check govauctions.com to poke around.

The cons: the trans is the weak link for those Fords, so check that out before you buy that. The paint is poor and peels off and Lord knows what has been spilled in the back seat. As far as the 24 hour running of the engine, I never found that to be a problem, but expect to put new plugs and coil packs in it. Be sure to check the brakes, battery and alignment. P.S. they REALLY suck in the snow. 

if I needed a car as a first  car, I would go for it. Buyer beware. 

    

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When I attended the citizen police academy in my town we spent one day doing simulated road stops. I drove a few different patrol cars with a few different officers and they all said "never buy a former police car". 

Just throwing that out there.

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3 hours ago, Rob0115 said:

A bit off topic but NJSP requires a bachelors degree from an accredited college or univeristy as of this past June.  If that is on his radar he may want to consider more education after Vo Tech.

 

http://www.njsp.org/recruiting/minimum-qualifications.shtml

 

Thanks for the heads up. He knows that a degree is needed. This Votech program is very cool. He will graduate with 21 OCC college credits in the bag that he can take to any state school.

Thanks all. If he wants a Crown Vic, we will look for a civilian model. 

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Crown Vics are great cars,   they are starting to show signs of the frames rusting in the front and in the fleet I work with that's one big reason they get turned in,   many have close to and over 200k and still going.   The fleet is professionally  maintained so regular checks and that's all they need to keep going,  no big problems that I can think of.   also a VERY comfortable car compared to these mini cars they are starting to use.    

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1 hour ago, dajonga said:

Thanks for the heads up. He knows that a degree is needed. This Votech program is very cool. He will graduate with 21 OCC college credits in the bag that he can take to any state school.

Thanks all. If he wants a Crown Vic, we will look for a civilian model. 

That’s great.  

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My father sold them to Newark cabbies for years... Had one as my first car... I personally loved it; it's extremely slow (although everyone seemed to think i drove a fast car), and is fairly safe.. I'd love to have another one again.
These cars have been fine tuned since 1998 (when they started using the latest/last body style) to last... Yes, they have been beat up, but as long as you don't buy a POS, there isn't much that can break. If it does, parts are readily available for stupid cheap and working on them is ridiculously easy because the motor isnt squeezed into the hood of a VW Bug.
For the right price, i wouldn't hesitate if i needed a car. My father has one sitting in his warehouse that i've been trying to convince him to let me take.. 07 former NYSP with their nice Dark Blue paint. Vinyl interior and all.
 

They are the exception to that rule IMO..
Don't buy a Charger, Impala, Tahoe, etc..
Crown vics were around for 13+ years on the SAME chassis and body style, with fairly minimal changes between them.. There's a reason for that. If they didn't have a problem keeping up with modern emission regulations and what not they would still be around.


 

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27 minutes ago, Lambo2936 said:

My father sold them to Newark cabbies for years... Had one as my first car... I personally loved it; it's extremely slow (although everyone seemed to think i drove a fast car), and is fairly safe.. I'd love to have another one again.
These cars have been fine tuned since 1998 (when they started using the latest/last body style) to last... Yes, they have been beat up, but as long as you don't buy a POS, there isn't much that can break. If it does, parts are readily available for stupid cheap and working on them is ridiculously easy because the motor isnt squeezed into the hood of a VW Bug.
For the right price, i wouldn't hesitate if i needed a car. My father has one sitting in his warehouse that i've been trying to convince him to let me take.. 07 former NYSP with their nice Dark Blue paint. Vinyl interior and all.
 

They are the exception to that rule IMO..
Don't buy a Charger, Impala, Tahoe, etc..
Crown vics were around for 13+ years on the SAME chassis and body style, with fairly minimal changes between them.. There's a reason for that. If they didn't have a problem keeping up with modern emission regulations and what not they would still be around.


 

chargers have constant front end problems. tahoes....the dept i do work for, their older one is pretty good/reliable. the inner door pull handle's effed up though. i believe that's common on them. this dept has a brand new tahoe. it didn't go15k miles on its original tires or brakes. i haven't got any experience with impala police cars.

 

 it's ashame ford killed off the crown vic. probably one of the best cars they've had recently.....

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OP - if you've got any questions on law enforcement or getting into it for younger guys feel free to shoot me a pm.

as for the first car as a retired police car or a crown vic in general - I would avoid for a few reasons.

They're beat up no matter how they look on the outside.

They get young kids who drive them in trouble (well mostly the driver gets themselves in trouble)

Most guys on the job view most people that drive vics or retired police chargers (other than elderly people driving the civ models) to be clowns.

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3 hours ago, dajonga said:

If he wants a Crown Vic, we will look for a civilian model. 

You could also look at the Mercury Grand Marquis, it is the same car, not sure if this has been mentioned already.

The frame, suspension, and steering changed significantly in 2003 in both. I personally prefer the pre-2003 model for ease of DIY maintenance, but the newer 4th generation ones do handle better. The higher trim LS models came with traction control which helps on snow.

 

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2 hours ago, Fallout said:

OP - if you've got any questions on law enforcement or getting into it for younger guys feel free to shoot me a pm.

as for the first car as a retired police car or a crown vic in general - I would avoid for a few reasons.

They're beat up no matter how they look on the outside.

They get young kids who drive them in trouble (well mostly the driver gets themselves in trouble)

Most guys on the job view most people that drive vics or retired police chargers (other than elderly people driving the civ models) to be clowns.

I really appreciate the offer for LE info. My son is only a sophomore, so he has time on his side. This is the 1st year VoTech has allowed sophomores into the Law enforcement program.

I have always wondered what guys on the job thought of civilians tooling around in Interceptors.

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On 9/20/2017 at 1:52 PM, Mrs. Peel said:

Sounds like the same reason I'd never buy a former rental car. People abuse what they don't own themselves.

I've owned several ex-rentals, including the current Mazda 5 my wife drives.  Never had a problem with any of 'em that I could attribute to being an ex-rental.  

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18 hours ago, fapipa said:

You could also look at the Mercury Grand Marquis, it is the same car, not sure if this has been mentioned already.

The frame, suspension, and steering changed significantly in 2003 in both. I personally prefer the pre-2003 model for ease of DIY maintenance, but the newer 4th generation ones do handle better. The higher trim LS models came with traction control which helps on snow.

 

Had an early 90's Marquis, and it was also a fine ride down the road, and the trunk...the trunk.....my wife would fill it up with bags of horse feed.  There's a reason they call these mafia staff cars...you could put two bodies in there and not notice it riding down the road.  Only major work it needed was valve stem seals; something the early 4.6 v8's were known for.

 

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42 minutes ago, 1LtCAP said:

if you're looking at civi models, stay away from ANYthing ford makes with air suspension. i think that was an option in the civi vics.......

It could still be a good deal if you find one with a sagging air suspension at a reasonable price. Quality parts to convert these to regular coils cost around $150 - $250, and it is relatively easy to do.

Not the best example but this is what a quick search found on amazon:   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GR0NRME

 

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16 hours ago, W2MC said:

Had an early 90's Marquis, and it was also a fine ride down the road, and the trunk...the trunk.....my wife would fill it up with bags of horse feed.  There's a reason they call these mafia staff cars...you could put two bodies in there and not notice it riding down the road.  Only major work it needed was valve stem seals; something the early 4.6 v8's were known for.

 

I've been toolin'-around in that chassis since my first new one back in '95!  I bought a white Crown Vic & everybody in the fast lane in front of me turned into a "left lane Dick", lol, thinking I was da Po-Po!

I had switched-over to the Grand Marquis at the first trade-in because Ford kept offering $3K cash back for the "grandpop mobiles" & nuthin' off the Vic's.  Never looked back.

To the OP:

I had a 2003 I gave my son as his first car when he got his DL in '06.  I handed him the keys & told him to buy brakes, tires, shocks, and get a radiator flush & fill and a 4-wheel alignment, which he did along with an oil change.  That little "creampuff" lasted him until he traded it in (after 4 yrs of college & his first job out in Iowa which lasted 2 years) on an Audi S4 sports coupe!  I'm still driving a '06 Grand Marquis I bought so I could gift him the '03 (I call it the War Wagon since I load it up with powder, guns & ammo).  The War Wagon is about to turn over 195K & still likes to go 80 mph down the road at barely more than 2K rpm.

My suggestion is to go find a garage-kept creampuff somewhere in Brick at the Retirement Villages off Rt. 70.  Replace the aging, dry-rot tires & serpentine belt, check the original hoses for dry-rot, and if needed, clean-up the plastic on the headlights so the kid can see the road (they have kits for that).  Parts are readily available everywhere.  If it has a donut, get him a full size spare.  Wheels at the junk yard are just $50.  Can still hold 4 bodies in the trunk w/ the full-size spare :) 

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